Posts Tagged ‘Burning Man’

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North America : Chicago to Mexico

September 28, 2014

Hello my darling

How are you?

I am on an aeroplane bound for Mexico City and I am well.

I was on a plane bound for Northern Mexico one week ago but Hurricane Odile destroyed Cabo San Lucas and I was stopped in Dallas en route. I was headed for Todos Santos which is near Cabo.

American Airlines sent all the honeymooners from my flight to Cancun and told me to return in two days should I still wish to catch the flight down.

Considering Americans get about 7 seconds of holiday a year I guess you can’t blame them all for getting testy, but I did feel a little sorry for all the new husbands. Some of those chicks were frightful.

Natural disasters and cheap tickets equal zero airline accommodation so I ditched Dallas and headed immediately for Austin, on a bus the airport shuttle driver begged me not to touch. “You’ll be the only non-hispanic. Those buses crash each week. They change their names almost as often. Are you mad?”

Of course it was fine and I said “buenos tardes” to my fellow passengers as I jumped on. Imagine boarding a bus in Sydney and calling out “g’day.” You’d be locked up. But in Latino world you get a collective greeting in return.

A dubbed version of Men in Black blared away and the old girl next to me was headed to a funeral as I think was most of the bus.

I grabbed a taco from the Mexican joint next door just before we set off and said “buen provecho” to the large group of men staring at me. I have learned that fear or awkwardness is often melted by direct verbal communication and I suppose I did look a little out of place.

I was held up once in La Boca and forever after would shout big hellos to everyone I passed, as though they were my great friends and would rush to my rescue should anything bad happen. It never did again.

La Boca is a little famous for being a lot dodgy and I was sent there to collect people when once we cancelled a tour.

Two women turned up. One from Melbourne who was super chilled out and dealt with the news decently and forgivingly. The other was Nervous Nelly from Boston, who’d lied to her family about visiting La Boca and shook with terror at all times. She really wanted a sneaky peak and while I wasn’t very familiar with the tour at the time, I had an hour up my sleeve so took them up to Pasaje Garibaldi. There had been an ‘urban intervention’ and it would give them a snippet of both Boca and the street art scene. It is just off the tourist strip and the cops won’t enter.

I started on about a couple of the artists I knew.

“So this is Pastel, the architect..”, pointing high up the wall to his version of Buster Keaton’s house from One Week and then noticed some commotion out of the corner of my eye.

A boy was annoying Madame Boston so I said “Ché, dejanos en paz, eh”. “Dude, leave us in peace.”

He thrusts his chest right at me and says “Plata, plata, dame plata.” He was after money.

I was working and he was annoying so I told him to fuck off. And just as the f of the off landed on my lips I realised he had, or was pretending to have, a gun down his shorts. My fear kicked in but it was too late. I’d been too tuff. He apologised and left us to it. Amazing.

He walked in the direction we too wanted and Boston was freaking out; panting, terrified, and continuously looking back to check where he was. Melbourne remained the coolest kid on the block and I thank you for that wherever you may be. I was trying to stay cool but my heart was thumping fast.

While we three girls slowly headed further into Dodgyville, I turned to see where he was and ended up in a staring competition with him. I won and off he went. I might add that I was wearing a bright red dress and lipstick for I had other plans for that Saturday afternoon. Tuff.

So my Austin mate is Moya and she came on a graffitimundo tour with me once upon a time. We finish every tour at Post Street Bar because hidden at the back is Hollywood in Cambodia; a gallery run by six Argentine street artists. After a beer Moya asked if we could hang out while she was in town, and so we did.

When I checked in with her from Dallas Fortworth she was in Detroit with her fella looking at property and wrote that I was super welcome, please please come, she’d be back the next day, and that I should let myself in and stay in her daughter’s room who was at dad’s for the week with her brother and sister.

Austin is just marvellous and all my new friends think I am moving there, just as soon as they find me a husband to get the government off my back. But I am not. I have promised Sydney 2 years and I plan to stay longer if all goes according to my very lightly sketched plan.

Their place is old and magnificent. A crumbling, free standing house known as a Nola house as it is like those from New Orleans Louisiana. There were massive trees shading all the ‘porches’ and wide white chairs swinging at the front and back, just like the movies.

And addresses like East 13th make it so much harder for me to get lost.

Everyone was in a total love zone.

Moya is madly in love with Colin and Colin is madly in love with Moya.

Her flatmate Deborah is madly in love with Bryan and Bryan is madly in love with Deborah.

It should have been sickening but it was really nice to be surrounded by lovers, true true lovers, kissing all about the place and just so very happy with how it’s all worked out for them.

We did group yoga classes in the mornings to tricky podcasts.

Deborah took me one evening to her regular singing jam and another morning to her regular Ecstatic Dance get together. The jam was cool, yet a desperate reminder that I really must learn the words to a song or two. Did I never listen to an album growing up? I could count Madonna and Kylie but ssshhhhh. I chimed in with Blue Moon and Pulp Fiction’s Let’s Stay Together. But Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’ was one I wish I’d known.

I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mind.
There was something so pleasant about that place.

The fellow who sang it did a super splendid job solo though, hitting all those high notes and then casually picking up one of his 12 harmonicas while the two guitarists took it for a spin. Very nice times.

By the way, if you remember from an earlier letter my idea of singing Nature Boy on a quiet corner of Burning Man’s Black Rock City….and if you’re wondering, did I do it? No. I did not. It didn’t seem quite the thing to do. But I did sing it to three unsuspecting mini audiences throughout the week. Very intimate (not romantically) and a little intoxicated. Of course I forgot some of the words.

In case you don’t know the song I’m referring to :

There was a boy
A very strange, enchanted boy
They say he wandered very far, very far
Over land and sea
A little shy
And sad of eye
But very wise was he.

And then one day
One lucky day he passed my way
And while we spoke of many things
Fools and kings
This he said to me
“The greatest thing
You’ll ever learn
Is just to love
And be loved in return.”

It puts in me in tears in the opening credits of Moulin Rouge every time. It’s ‘cos I know she’s going to die and I don’t even like Nicole.

And I’m learning it on the piano. Well I was, and I will again when I hit Sydney.

Did I tell you that I’ve organised to continue my piano lessons via Skype? Bit of a different way to go about things, but why on earth not? Marcelo Katz and I tested it out from his house to mine one day and it seemed to work ok. And it’ll be good for my Español.

Also, if you were wondering about the Sufi Post?? A hit. A total hit. I loved it, and have kept it going. Moya, Colin, Deborah and Bryan should all be getting a Hafiz poem the day after tomorrow. As will their acupuncturist mate Peachy. As will the handsome chap at the paleo food van who I met when completely gaga after 2 hours of acupuncture. Aaah, acupuncture. When it is good, it is so so good.

It seems that every American I meet is polyamorous and on a paleo diet. I am not quite sure I have my head around the diet but I get the polyamorous bit. Untested by yours truly, Deborah approached me quietly one day after I’d been chatting to her beau. “It is ok if Bryan flirts with you, it’s totally fine, we’re in an open relationship.” I had no interest at all in her man but wondered if that might sound insulting so just mumbled “ok”. The paleo business on the other hand I have not got my head around. Hunter gatherer style, think cave man, avoid all grains.

As the Sufi Post at Burning Man, I would ask the punters if I might read them a poem. I’d slip my Sufi Post sign over my head, read it, then ask “would you like me to post that to you?” and reach for my miniature envelopes. I went a bit gung-ho on day one reciting poetry to half of Camp Anita and spent half the day writing poetry. With so much else to do coupled with my late arrival I took it easy after that and by Friday took down real addresses instead. I have been writing Hafiz’ beautiful words ever since.

BRC3PO was my chosen post office. Black Rock City’s 3 o’clock Post Office. Would you believe the city had three competing? I met a bloke who worked there one evening and he assured me their service was the very best so I trusted him.

And in Austin I saw an electric car station for the first time. I mean, a place for you to plug your car into to recharge. Seriously, am I that behind or does this sound like the foreign future to you too?

Last night I hung out on a Texan bridge waiting for the bats to pass overhead. Last summer I heard a whisper that some people were trying to move the Sydney bats on. Move them on? But the bats were first. Have you heard that too?

Yesterday I watched small boys play indoor soccer. Moya’s was the champ and we all felt very sorry for his team mate Milo. “It’s yours Milooooooo!!! Own it! Oooooowwwnnnn it!!!! MILOOOOO!!” The poor child almost kicked one in and his mother screamed out “that’s it! That’s it!!! You just need a taste!!”

This Ecstatic Dance business was after the football, and before we ate ‘barbeque’, which neither you nor your mates help to cook. Delicious and messy meat literally slipping off the bone.

So, Ecstatic Dance is basically a sober dance party on a Sunday morning with smiley people who might give you a sudden hug. I don’t think it is my thing but I am pleased I can erase it from my curiosity bank. I tried to get into it, sat it out when the thumping house beats kicked in, and when I dared myself back in to the fold, a stinky, sweaty man came and gave me a long, stinky, sweaty hug. Bit too long for my liking, but I hugged back because that’s what I’d signed up for. After he left a bloke clad in royal purple started ‘contact’ dancing with me. I think that is what it was as I’d heard all about ‘contact’ in Buenos Aires where they’re all about it. He rolled his back and body around mine and didn’t quite get the hint when I tried to pull away. My back wasn’t strong enough to be honest, and I was pushing back from the nearby wall to gather more strength. Eventually I said “too much buddy” whereupon he started to hum “gently, gently” and moved us onto hand to hand energy work. Again I played along but then he wanted us to touch hands, then he stroked my face and then put his hand near my crotch and on my hip. That was me done and I sat down to join the others “omm” and have ocean waves wash over me. Finally the hundred of us sat in a circle to say our names whereupon I discovered that the sweaty hugger was Divinely Present and the face stroker was Wonderfully Lost. I was just me.

Austin was also full of house cracking thunderstorms, swimming holes, a reminder that I like experimental electronic music if I get to lie down while listening, and lots and lots of good conversations with modern thinkers. Lovely.

So…..you may be wondering about Chicago. It didn’t work out. I probably ought to have stayed in Colorado but you can’t get it right every time. And had I not gone to Chicago I’d not have ended up in Austin because I’d not have run away to Calgary and I’d not have taken Carla’s advice to visit Todos Santos, so I’d not have been stuck in Dallas and so it goes.

The fellow, who I seem unwilling to name, met me with his band of merry trippers and all was ok for a second. Then I realised this fun shamanic charmer was a grumpy alcoholic stoner trashbag mess. I managed two nights in his toxic company and bailed.

I did manage to get a little snippet of Chicago though.

I sat on a beach gazing at Lake Michigan, I went to an excellent design show, and I wandered downtown amongst those extraordinary and colossal buildings. And I went to a comedy gig at Second City where Saturday Night Live and Mike Myers were born. I needed some humour back in my world.

I hung out one evening with my ex-neighbours from Buenos Aires who are great. They took me out for negronis for old times’ sake and the best ramen ever in the West Loop. They had been my back up plan in case the dude turned sour but unfortunately had to leave for weekend weddings so couldn’t stick around to play. I didn’t camp with them because they’d given up their downtown apartment in exchange for Argentina, and were living in the sticks with mom and dad; oddly in the same neighbourhood as Macdonald’s main headquarters which they say is nice.

The day I left the trashy shaman I wandered through the Mexican neighbourhood Pilsen in hopes of finding a noticeboard or I don’t know quite what. I’d had to escape is all I know. Bit of an odd move wheeling my little bag up the one street, going in and out of cafes and shops asking about potential hidden rooms for rent. One kind girl working in a cafe offered me her sofa, but not till midnight, by which stage I’d found a last minute cancellation on airbnb. Thank God. What an angel though, I knew Pilsen had a nice ring to it. To tell you the truth, I spent many hours that week looking for a room or an apartment that wasn’t a Hilton or 30 miles out of town for my visit coincided with the Riot Festival and a massive conference. It was a bit booooring and stressful and is no doubt as dull to read as it is to write so my sincere apologies for being dreary.

When I arrived that night in the Swedish neighbourhood Andersonville my bag handle decided to bust. Good. Great. I was handed a glass of red by Jacob who works in the makeup industry, who immediately set to work on my eyes. All a girl ever needs to get back on track is a glass of a plonk and a laugh with a camp make-up artist and his new lover. Thanks fellas, I’ll catch you in Chicago for round 2 when I am not temporarily blinded by the scent of romance.

The other half of the flat, Melanie, was also terrific. And she is soon headed to Australia for 6 months so hopefully we’ll hang out. She loves the joint and dated a boy in Perth for a while and spoke fondly of goon in the backyard.

We were all sad that they had to boot me out on Friday morning and, as I was desperate not to stay in lonely, fancy hotel rooms, I bailed for Calgary for a quick reset with old mates, a few more glasses of vino and some of Carla’s amazing home cooked food.

And a gopher museum.

I wheeled the bag in the rain to the mom and pop hardware store where that fine chap persevered for a good 20 minutes and fixed it. Legend.

And now I am in the sky leaving what has been one wonderful and eventful month in the United States of America. Cheers for having me team, see you next year in Nevada. I hope.

I always ramble on and on and never remember to ask how you’re travelling? Is everything going ok in your world? Are you happy and well? What’s news?

Lots of love

Kirsty xxo

p.s When this machine stops misbehaving I’ll try to put up some photos

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USA : Nevada to Utah to Colorado

September 11, 2014

Hello my darling

How are you?

I am well. Warm, sticky, well and in Moab; a most striking and apparently hidden treasure on earth. It is adventure nut central and tomorrow I will bail after my brief interlude with rock climbing. I may just be hooked for it is a bit crazy good, but that is enough for the time being.

When I boarded the train in Reno there were two conductors hanging about; one scanned our papers while the other told us how to behave. The good manners lesson went on and on and on. For at least ten minutes, which is long, especially considering the train was stationed waiting for us to be schooled.

“I don’t catch all o’ you smokers all o’ the time, but I do catch a great big percentage of yer.” Shoes must remain on at all times, we weren’t to take on any troublemakers ourselves…and so it went. It was and indeed remains a little worriesome to be told how to behave on a train but perhaps it was a Reno thing because the joint was so chock full of ‘burners’ and perhaps they thought there’d be strife, but I have this funny feeling that this is not a Reno thing. I really hope I am wrong.

The day before my departure I went hunting for some flowers “you want fresh flowers???” and came up with an azalea for Jan and Stan to plant. It is a more pushy present than I’d hoped to give them but it was that or floral plastic and I remind myself that it is not a puppy and that Jan and Stan have a good sized yard. And at the supermarket check-out my coins were not handed to me but spat out of a machine instead. Odd. Germs or efficiency I wonder. And there was a bloke outside the store busting out moves while listening to his yellow Sony walkman. Oh the cassette tape. Oh the good old times.

I got off the train in Green River. Green River Station to Moab was a mini mission but, with the help of my new mate Gino the Roman, it was pulled off with fortunate ease.

image

I caught a whiff of the challenge earlier on when chatting up a conductor on one of the breaks for the smokers who, by the looks and the grumbles of them, must have been sitting on that Amtrak voyage desperate for decades.

“So, you got someone collecting you at Green River?” he wonders.

“No.” His face dropped in horror. “Well, that’s really no good, no good at all.”

He mentioned a shuttle he’d never spied that charges $100 for the 50 miles to Moab, wished me the best of luck and screamed “all aboard.”

I had lashed out and got a sleeper for the 17 hour journey and the carriage steward whispered that the chap in number 10 was also alighting at Green River. Enter Gino.

Gino is a charming Roman, ex financier, ex advisor to Italian governments, son of a film producer turned film producer himself, snooker shark (we held off playing when I told him I was a bit ‘hit and miss’), a husband who just got sprung cheating on his missus, and a man with even less clue about Green River than I.

“I might stay a couple of nights” he says before we had even pulled in. I told him I would do all I could to avoid such a situation.

We looked to be in strife in Utah. We were the only two getting off the train (they all knew), and there was not even a chair on the platform let alone a loo. The sticks. We shared pancakes I had grabbed as take away (I bullied him into trialling bacon and syrup) and headed for Main Street.

Green River was once a mining centre, a Wild West film location, and a missile base. Green River is now one broken down hotel and cafe after another and a river called Green. We made a pathetic sign “Moab” and I stuck out a thumb while Gino entered the one open diner and sweet talked Sylvia the Mexican chef to shut up shop and drive us where we wanted to go. We got very very lucky.

image  image

Yesterday afternoon, while Gino bumped around on a tour in a jeep, I paid a bored bloke called Jay to take me climbing for a few hours. I went up and down the one short face Schoolroo

m, and any time I asked if we might visit another rock he would say “if we have time.” It was ok, but kind of tiring and a bit boring after the first 3 shots at it.

Yesterday’s simplicity however was made up this morning by Bud the Brilliant. He’d been eavesdropping as Gino and I checked in at the Adventure Inn; a place where people have sent snail mail letters thanking Jim and Chris, Bud’s good mates, for their kind hospitality. He collected me at the crack of dawn and taught me like the true beginner I am/was.

image Dear Bud.

Etiquette was very important (“if there’s just one thing I teach you today…share the rock, use your own anchor”) and I am now able to belay a bloke and thus be a useful buddy. I became a bit dizzy with the lingo but I’ve heard it all once now and the first time is surely the dizziest part.

There was some to-ing and fro-ing….

B: “Belay on” K: “Belay on”
B: “Belay off” K: “Belay off”
B/K: “Climbing”
B/K: “Climb away”

It was really really scary at times. I mean, you know you’re not going to fall, but bloody hell, it was steep and sometimes I was holding on to nada, with my toe resting on a crack. They scale up from 5 here and I will later brag to anyone who cares to listen that I climbed 5.10. And then probably learn that it isn’t worth bragging about and shut my mouth again. But Bud did say that I am a natural. Charm’ll get you everywhere.

He wouldn’t even let me pay for gas, only a burger for his lunch. A real gem, who takes people out just for the love of it.

Gino kept on insisting on paying for my dinner too, I must look like a real bum.
…………………..Tomorrow today……………………

I am back on the train. Gino and I just spent another four hours at Green River for the freight companies own the train tracks and today, Sunday, is a good day for repairs. We just met Roma walking the streets, most of town at the Green River cafe, and the pastor at one of the three churches. We were an hour early for the service which, for some reason, we thought might be an interesting way to pass the time. Still sinners.

What is remarkable is that Gino said a short while ago that I am teaching him about patience. Me? I am one of the least patient characters I have ever laid eyes on, but cheers Gino. I just didn’t want to get on the Greyhound.

image Impatient Gino heading off for the Greyhound. He’ll be back.

He has been writing a script and scouting for a documentary he is making about food culture in the States, hooking up with some famous chef called Alice who began the famous Chez Parnasse in Berkeley. And he is now considering casting me in it and thinks I should be a comic actor. I have been chatty it is true, and I am in a good mood, but with a camera in my face capturing my every move I would go weird and shy and so I say no. Not that he is saying yes, and if one day he wanted to fly me to Roma for a casting, well, I’m sure I’d say alright. But no, I don’t think so.

There really is nothing like an Aussie accent in Utah to inspire banter with strangers though. It is working so deliciously well it is no wonder I can’t leave the States, and it reminds me how completely in love I fell with the place during last year’s visit. In the UK you’re just another bloody Aussie but here I feel a teeny bit exotic again and what can I say, I love feeling just a teeny weeny bit exotic.

I did let Gino in on how famous I am in Argentina after that, and my massive role as a Swedish lesbian in Bien de Familia; a mini series which was pretty dreary but made it to air the month before I left. I was meant to be the daughter of a Swiss banker, working for Medicines Sans Frontiers and saving children in Africa, but by the time I came in at episode 8 someone else in the cast had accidentally referred to me, Gudula, as Swedish instead of Swiss. Sueca is close to Suiza, it is true. I tried to argue with the continuity guy who rushed in to correct me after one of the takes (there was some improvisation to add to my awkwardness as the only foreigner and the only one who’d never acted) and his response was, and I quote, “no pasa nada. Es todo lo mismo.” Whatevs mate. It’s all the same, innit?

It was a family drama about self medicating Argentine psychiatric mothers and badly investing Argentine fathers, and my debut into the lesbian scene involved one kiss and one hand on one thigh. Not a terribly steamy role. Reading the script I worried less about kissing chicks and more about the expectation that I laugh, cry and be terrified. Thank God for the director’s improvisational stance as I didn’t have to do or be any of those things….I was just good ole’ Swedish me. Crying I reckon I’d have been able to pull off, maybe, but fake laughter? Forgetaboutit.

Incidentally, my marvellous French flatmate told me at the time of filming that the name Gudula in France is a synonym for a very butch, truck driving lesbian. Excellent.

So now I am patient and I am running with that, just so you know.

After Gino and I ate some steak and wandered down Main Street towards a bar called Woody’s (the town’s one other bar is Eddie McStiff’s) we passed an out of towner who’d spent his evenings that week showcasing his gigantic telescope and aiming it at the moon for all us fine punters passing by to have a squiz. Gino and I lingered long enough for him to swing it around to Saturn. Fantastic.

We and this very late train are headed now to Glenwood Springs by the way, and in the next few days, instead of practicing my newfound patience, I intend to chase a strange boy to Chicago.

He is possibly the oddest character I have ever wanted to kiss twice and I am going to the Windy City to find out more. Or to freak out at my careless and rash decision at which stage I will throw myself out of the United States of America and get myself south of the border where I am meant to be.

Apple picking is definitely not happening though.

And I am on stand by for changing Cuban Cubamera dates.

It has been way too long between kisses and I am just tinkering with ideas of romance and affection. I miss it and I want it some more.

Must have been that workshop I joined one morning at Burning Man titled “Open your heart chakra though movement meditation”, where I was invited to ooze green Saturnian rings through my heart, the playa and then of course the entire cosmos.

I kissed a couple of other boys at Black Rock City. Doctor Love was the best kisser (Aussie lad) who was hanging out with Hugs and Trouble. Mustang from Wisconsin sadly coughed up about his girlfriend the day after we kissed and of course there was the kissing booth.

These strange names I speak of are Playa names. Like Strider and Polar Bear who I met from the Seattle Flight if you recall.

Mine was given to me on day 2. I was wandering back from Embrace having attended a funeral service with my entire camp, Camp Anita. We each dressed in white and walked to the Temple to celebrate their friend from Camp Anita and one girl’s mother who had died earlier in the year.

image Indy and Arturo in front of The Temple of Grace

Indy (who later became Pirate), with whom I shared a campervan (RV) hadn’t yet crawled about inside Embrace so after the funeral we ventured over.

imageEmbrace

We split up and when we eventually found each other she was outside about to kiss some fellow. I left them to it and as I wandered away I asked a Frenchman cycling past, Lolo, for directions to 630 and Isfahan. When I offered just Kirsty and no Playa Name he said “from now on you are The Baroness.” “The Baroness!!” He repeated it like it was an order and cycled on his way.

I mean, I kind of liked it, but as I am not actually a baroness it did seem a little on the pretentious side.

I ran it by Hurricane, my other Rv flatmate and lady boss of the camp. “It’s good.”

And the following day I met Tricky who, detecting something was up as I hesitated to introduce myself, helped me workshop it a little. He insisted that I introduce myself as “the” baroness, and not simply baroness. And so I did.

And to think that Lolo didn’t even know that I had long white leather gloves and a nasty cheap but perfect white furry coat in my wardrobe.

The gloves and the backpack are now long gone and Gino commented on what a light traveller I am. You can only imagine how delighted I was to hear those words.

I’ll have to start another letter later with more about the “burn” as this one is surely already too long.

I hope you are wonderfully well.

Lots of love

The Baroness xxo

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Returning from Black Rock City

September 4, 2014

Darling You

 

How are you?

I am terrific and in a bit of a rush. Got an overnight train to catch and the Pneumatic Diner in downtown Reno to visit before I board.

Plans have changed.

There aren’t so many apples awaiting me in Hermosillo (bad drought) and I have developed a desire to climb rocks.  So I just bought a one way train ticket to Utah having been told by some young base jumpers from New Orleans about Moab, Utah. I seem to be oriented well for exploring part of this beautiful country, with its friendly people and its very handsome and flirtatious men, and it appears I am in no rush to jump down into Mexico so to Moab I go.

Give me two weeks of yankee tucker though and I’ll no doubt be sprinting for the border.

I have two posts ready to go pre Black Rock City which I shall send in a bit and will catch you up on the festival in time. It was magnificent.  Burning Man takes place in Black Rock City, by the way, if I have confused you.

But for now, know that I am alive and well and happy and nervous again, for after all my new mates, I am on my own once more and it always throws me into a mild spin of semi-excited, semi terrified mode.  Utah? Who’d have thunk it.

And Colorado is just next door.

Anyone reading this with any mates in the area please do hook a sister up.

 

All my love

Kirsty xxo

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Glasgow to Edinburgh to London to Edinburgh

August 25, 2014

My dear darling you

How are you?

I am very well.  I think I am nervous about leaving the UK for a desert full of strangers and my loony self, but survive I will and if all goes according to plan I will crawl out of it a more whackily rounded individual and one wider awake to the mechanics of the universe.

I am on a train returning to Edinburgh after some groovy evenings in hip London. What a cool town it is.  In the summer of course, with those long days and everyone cycling about happily.

This train is very, very fast, my ears keep busting apart, and the conductor just punched my ticket, confirming that the train I had to catch “between 10am and 2pm” does also include 2. It was a little risky.

My train last week from Edinburgh had a problem and never showed up, so they squashed my lot onto the next service.  I thought I’d judged my platform position quite well, and then every carriage except the last one zooms past, leaving me perfectly centered (and shocked) between the two last doors.  Damn. I gazed at the hoards as I remembered friends’ tales of 3rd class in India, and headed for the front, in the rain, fast as I could.  Miraculously I found a seat, joining 3 other women at a communal table.  It all looked quite nice about me and I relaxed into my blue lush chair. But why all the cups on the table?  First.

My innocence quickly vanished and I probably ought to have moved, but the bird opposite me was also a desperate rebel and said we were “experiencing extraordinary circumstances”, so we both stayed put. The old girls by the windows, two friends who now always travel up the front with their pensioners discount, agreed.

We drank the cup of tea, and pathetically declined the egg sandwiches, the asian noodle salad and the cake, having decided that in Great Britain everyone is entitled to a cup of tea.  The oldies ordered one of everything.

When the conductor finally did turn up, I leaped to my feet to search for my ticket.

“I think I’m going to get into a little bit of trouble here, but, well, I was on the 10.30 you see…..”

I didn’t mention my lack of a first class ticket for surely they are gold plated.

“It isn’t reserved, it’s all yours.”

I sat quietly, staring my large brown eyes at him, and watched my neighbour in confusion.

“I do not have a first class ticket.” It was not the thing to say.

“It’ll cost you”
“Really? How much?”
“A lot.  I’ll find you a seat and get back to you”.

He never returned from India, and I chased after the egg trolley to grab us a plate.

I stayed last night with my cousin Amanda and her children in Brook Green, after a few nights in Angel Islington with my Aussie mate Gerri. I do like London.

I may have aged Amanda’s teenagers a little for I had them assist with final preparations for Burning Man and showed them some photos.  I mentioned to the 17 year old that there are some drugs and the occasional orgy. She was disgusted. 13 year old Annabelle helped with my sign (I plan to be a postal service) and Patrick, whose artistic skills are 3 years her junior, decorated my camping cup with a turtle.  I now look very sweet and innocent.

We bought cheap socks at a fairly revolting store called Primark where I also bought a furry, fake lamb coat for ten quid. But a bit just fell off so I may have to leave it behind.  No rubbish allowed. None! Not even a little bit of synthetic lamb. They call it  ‘Moop’…matter out of place, and the coat may lose me all the spirituality karmic brownie points Nature Boy and the Post might win.  I don’t think I can risk it.  Shame. I’ll keep monitoring it.

I think the socks are too cheap.  5 pairs for 2 quid? Very suspicious.

And I need to soap the inside of these boots. Please blisters stay away. A woman I once worked with at SBS always slept in new shoes for one night before taking them out for a spin.  She swore by it.

And I discovered that a slurp of vinegar is the newest cure for hiccups.

So I’ve had a little city hop; Glasgow to Edinburgh to London.

They are all nice cities. Many say Glasgow is best avoided and I hadn’t intended to stay but I did, and in doing so coincided with the Commonwealth Games. Doubles squash was all that was left so I invited Pete who, in order to meet me at the train, had given away his boxing tickets. He told me after. Such a thoughtful bloke. I am secretly pleased that he didn’t take me, for I don’t really think I’d have been much into it. I like to try everything at least once but I do not like to see people punch each others’ faces. And I think it is odd that anyone does. I am told there is a fight club at Burning Man.

We watched the squash through a large see-through court with the ball coming at us. Pete loved it. I quite liked it, almost a lot, and let it be known that I even shouted “come on Australia” (twice!) in the final match;  Scots versus Aussies.  Mixed doubles.  We were only just beating them and all the excited Scots were stamping and yelling and going mad mad and I couldn’t help myself.  It was very out of character for my non-patriotic self, but shout out I did.  I still struggle to join the aussie oi oi though. One step at a time.  I quite liked the old “come on Aussie come on come on” and I don’t remember when it got the boot.

Pete says more Glaswegians had taken up jogging.

We met Pete’s mates and the four of us stood in the rain under my one busted brolly as we watched a beautiful film of pieced together old Scottish footage, while a 16 piece band performed live. It was marvellous.

At the pub later there were Aussies all over the place and my boys and I kept gate crashing their conversations.

There was the gold medal hockey player from Newcastle, who changed his mind after the third sneaky drinkie and said he was a sprinter.

The big, beautiful, bronze medalist for shot put who posed with Pete and gang. I would not be surprised if they blow up and frame that photo for you’ve never seen three Glaswegian mates so happy with life.

The hammerthrower who came in 8th.

“Better than fourth” I said, lacking athlete banter and remembering a photography exhibition I saw of the Sydney Olympics titled 4th.  The photos were all black and white except for the highlighted face of 4th place. Killer. She agreed.

I wonder where that chap is with the trolley?  Maybe this train doesn’t have one.

London was fairly boozy with all those nice old mates to play with.

I saw my old pommy flatmate Hugo from Buenos Aires for yum cha in Soho.  He has given up the law and is now in cinema, as an extra, explaining that while he may be back on the bottom of the pile, at least he likes the pile he is now in.  We snuck into a brilliant underground cave/bar called Gordon’s to escape a storm then slipped into the Tate Modern.

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Gerri took me to a birthday party in Brick Lane with lots of ladies and lots of birthday cards.  And that night I saw, just from the street, Lady Diana’s cat emporium where people pay to have cats walk all over them.  Unreal.

One day I hung out with David, another gay mate I also met in Buenos Aires who grew up a mile from me in Sydney.  We ate ramen and crept around Charing Cross Road book shops.  Howard’s End is his all time favourite book “it’s about EVERYTHING” and I now have a copy to start on the plane.  He helped me choose a yellow tutu (for Tutu Tuesday) and introduced me to Gilbert and George.  We drank good vino and ate fabulous cheeses after which Gerri took us to her favourite borough Clerkenwell for cocktails.  Saturday she took me to a dinner party with English mates which was super, and Sunday we bike rode up a canal by her house to the flower markets, drank beer and ate roast.

 

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I only had Monday to myself and, as you know, I am expected to be a creative creature in Nevada.  Bit stressful, for crafty ain’t me and it is hoped, expected, not compulsory but kind of, to present gifts at Burning Man.  Not a barter system, a gift system. Nothing expected in return for your massage, necklace, sandwich, cocktail.  Just give it with lurve.

I have decided to be a poetry postal service.

I found a book of “wild” poetry by Hafiz, that Persian chap, and will ask people if I might read them a poem.  Then, because I like snail mail, I thought I’d handwrite the poem and deliver it their address. Some are a bit long so may they choose the short ones.  I have mini envelopes all now stamped with a red shiny square to match my two “Sufi Post” signs, decent paper, and some spare .38 pens.

I have a bicycle to collect in Reno and I will cycle them about the place.  Or hand them to the post office there if it all gets too confusing. There is a snail mail postal service at Black Rock City (the city being constructed as I write) so if you did wish to send me a letter, you have until Monday the 1st of September.  My address is Camp Anita. 630 and Isfahan.  Black Rock City. Nevada. USA. Not sure of the postcode.

We are 140 people in Camp Anita and our gift is cocktails. 50% of us are from Melbourne so I will probably slip quite rapidly into conversation my Victorian/South Aussie bloodline to avoid that dull fight.  Why does a city so cool need to hate another city? I don’t get it.  Maybe this is my big opportunity to start the “Don’t hate Sydney just because we’re daggy” movement and I hope to be a splendid ambassador.

I still intend to sing Nature Boy twice a day. Quietly. On a dusty corner somewhere. In an orange dress with gold trimming.

Not sure about the chandelier piece necklace anymore…I could try to thread them on the plane to Reno.  Do you think they’ll let me board with a needle?

I met many people in London going to Burning Man in 2015.  Not very helpful but I have 140 new besties to discover so I don’t think I’ll be too lonely out there.

And I just spotted the trolley.  Wicked.  Tea.

Edinburgh has been pretty chilled out, with loads of comedy, mostly good with a few rotten ones thrown in for good measure.

And lots of walking around and admiring the place.

I can’t believe I am about to leave and haven’t walked up Arthur’s Seat or seen the Lewis Chess Pieces. I suspect they may be left for my next visit.

I have been staying not too far from the action but far enough to pretend I am a local (not with that scarf around your neck in summer you don’t madam!) in Hillside/Leith.  I found Irishman Alan on Airbnb months ago and was a little worried because not one of his references mentioned that he had any humour.  I almost didn’t grab him but he was super and every morning I have woken to “mornin’ darlin’.”

Alan is into boys and so his accent quite obviously does not turn me on, but the Irish speak such a kind and comforting melody that I have a feeling it is no longer a Scot I want whispering sweet nothings in my ear, but an Irishman.  I have found neither Scottish Henry nor Irish Henry regardless so I was thinking, maybe I am being a little too specific about the name. It is just such a nice name. Henry.  I could just call my lover Henry if I should ever meet him, I am sure he won’t mind.

I had two internet dates which makes 6 in total and now two in the same city.  I hadn’t been that keen to meet either, but one kept stalking me and I thought why not.  He was very softly spoken and quite sweet but complained about his back and reminded me of me.  Pain is best kept underwraps. He took me into the BBC tent and we laughed at the same time, a good sign, but he wasn’t for me.

The other sent me a funny message months ago, whilst I lied saying I was already in Edinburgh, and I thought he might be a little quirky.  But he was too awkward and after 40 minutes over a cup of tea I made a fairly rapid exit.  He whinged and whinged about street performers and couchsurfers and the only time his thin lips curled up a little was when he mentioned a masturbatathon in San Francisco he’d like one day to attend.

His suggestion for a first date was to take me to an island called Crammond, with high tides we’d have to closely monitor, to watch him film himself pitching a tent in the nude.  “Too weird mate” I said, and we settled for a cafe. Alan and his lover Victor agreed that he was a little handsome and encouraged me to go, though I think the photos were 30 years old and that that may be me out of the internet game.

It has been quite fascinating though for I have never been much of the dating sort and I get to go on dates if I want.  Most of them though I don’t want.  Mostly I find them pretty unattractive, or they say ridiculous things, or say hello only so I ignore them. My favourite first line was “did you poo at work today?” I didn’t respond but in hindsight, he deserved it for originality.

As I am moving back to the worst city in the world for straight single women around my vintage, I am considering getting a cat to keep the dog and I company. Perhaps I’ll become one of those creepy animal people who don’t much take to humans.

The tea is good, as is the shortbread.

I don’t seem able to eat lunch anymore without passing out shortly after, and somehow I must incorporate the siesta into my new life in the western world.  Maybe if I got others to join it wouldn’t seem so outrageous.  And it isn’t outrageous, it makes sense.

We are going over a brodge my grandfather heleped to build.  Right now.  HOrrray.

Yep. Touch typist. Excellent at it.

Berwick Upon Tweed.  Back in Scotland.  Hello Scotland.

I had two non-lover couchsurfing dates.  One with a big German girl who had been a thin Swede on her profile.  I hadn’t looked at the fine print.  She was ok but pretty serious and I’d say she found me as boring as I did her.  We went to one show together, and it was the worst show I went to all festival.  I was almost angry with the performer, which is very poor form on my part because the Fringe is for everyone, no-one gets knocked back. , This girl had come up with some original ideas to be fair, they were just really, really, awfully cheesy, unfunny, dreary and slow ideas. As was she.  At the end of the show as we all put money in her hat, I heard an old girl telling her she was great and to keep it up.  Encouragement is a good idea, but she should be told at this stage of the game to give it up.  Even her skits talked about how boring she was.  I blame the German for choosing it and should have trusted my instinct.

One of the best shows I saw, I accidentally found on my way home on my last night. A game show run by a couple of drag queens called Still Misbehaving. The two teams were ‘iphones’ and ‘others’. There were not too many ‘others’.  And it was just silly.  First to text, first to take a selfie with Miss Behaving, smash that phone, we threw rubbish at the stage while she danced in her gold sequined onesie and the winning team was that which had the heaviest bag so my lot put a chair in with it, and won.  It was all really very funny.

 

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I saw a few Aussies perform.  All excellent. And they were the only performers who suggested other performers worth seeing. My favourite was a Sydney bloke called Steen Raskopoulos who was young and talented and cool.  I tried to be his new bestie with a facebook message but no response.  I am sure the last thing he was searching for in Scotland was an Aussie mate so I’ll stalk the lucky fellow later.

It is probably boring to talk about shows you are unlikely to ever see so I shall not go on about it.  But I saw lots. And lots.

What other tales have I for you?

Archie, the other couchsurfing hangout, was a winner.  Met him in a teeny pub called Sandy Bell’s. Great place if ever you end up in Edinburgh.  Teeeeny.  And there is a tradition that folk music always be played at the end of the bar so there were 5 old blokes tinkering away. It was very understated chilled out old school cool, if you know what I mean.

And I met one other chap through the net, Alvaro from Madrid. I was reading about Burning Man global communities and wondered if maybe there was a Scot who’d been.  I sent an email to the Scottish group and received word from a bunch of people mostly not living in Edinburgh nor going to Burning man.  Except Alvaro. He says I need not one pair of goggles for the dust storms but two (daytime/nighttime).  It is all madness really. Wonderful mad madness.

The night before last, I met up with my dear old Roman/English mate Francesca who I lived with in Santiago 15 years ago when I was in love with FiddyD.  I knew Fiddy was still living in London because I looked him up 8 years ago, when I was last in town, and hung out briefly with he and his Croatian wife.  I was very in love with him and it tested my skills in strength and maturity to see him then so I decided not to call in this time ’round.  So what does Francesca do? Surprise me.

 “Surprise!”
I was indeed very surprised to see him, particularly because he’d phoned on our way to meet him and when I asked who was joining us she spun a tale about wishing to introduce me to her new lover. When I saw him I truly believed, just for a split instant, that they had incredibly and coincidentally met recently and started bonking.  What were the chances?  I broke out into a feverish sweat, they said ‘surprise” and then I remembered we’d all been flatmates. Then I had a beer, and then I relaxed. It was actually lovely to see him, he is still the most beautiful man I have ever kissed.

I have to wrap this up.  The train is about to land in Edinburgh and I’d better get all my kit together.

You may not hear from me for a while as I need to make my way from Nevada to Arizona where I am getting a ride down to Hermosillo, Northern Mexico. I think I might have mentioned in an earlier letter that I will be picking apples for one month and I am told internet is scarce.

All my love to you and wish me luck in the desert

Kirsty xxo